Number 8: ‘Heartattack and Vine’ by Tom Waits
’Heartattack and Vine’ was released in 1980. I can’t remember if it was the first Waits album I bought, but I went on the accumulate five in total: ‘Closing Time,’ ‘The Heart of Saturday Night,’ ‘Small Change,’ ‘Foreign Affairs’ and ‘Blue Valentine’ were the others.
I’m not sure how I came across Waits; that’s lost in the fog that is slow filling up my memory bank. Anyone, there was something magical and mysterious about Waits. His voice was gravelling, like his vocal chords were being dragged by a truck. But I loved the boy, loved his music because it reached my soul and sometimes made me cry.
Back to ‘Heartattack and Vine.’ Side One remains my favourite for two reasons – ‘Heartattack and Vine,’ plus ‘Jersey Girl.’ The other tracks on that side were great too, but these were the ones I played. Waits sang with so much emotion, particularly evident in ‘Jersey Girl’ which still brings a lump to my throat.
Standout song on Side Two was undoubtedly ‘On the Nickel.’ Waits put his heart and soul into that song, straining every sinew to reach notes in parts. Masterly.
Waits was a real hero of mine, so much so that not only did I invest in all that vinyl, I also splurged out on a ticket to see him in a most unusual venue, Connolly Hall in Cork. Heck, where does time go? I’m not sure of the year, but what I do remember is hat no performer ever filled a stage better than Waits. He even sang one of my favourites, ‘The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me).’ Even when one of the speakers started fading in and out he didn’t storm off or pull a hissy fit. Instead he just ignored it and carried on. Brilliant.
Waits also turned up on the Late Late Show with Gay Byrne puffing on a cigarette, talking and playing. Lovely guy.